A wind-whipped wildfire has spread across parts of the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles and forced evacuations, threatened thousands of homes and closed parts of five major freeways.
The Saddleridge fire has prompted mandatory evacuations affecting about 100,000 people between Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and Sylmar. Mandatory evacuations have been called for about 23,000 homes in the affected areas, police chief Michel Moore said Friday while pleading with people to leave if they’re told to do so.
“I saw people firsthand attempting to fight the fire with garden hoses,” Moore said at a news conference. “Those individuals placed not only themselves in imminent peril, but also first responders because of our need and desire to try to rescue them.”
The fire has also forced multiple television productions scheduled to take place in the area to shut down. ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” Freeform’s “Good Trouble,” CBS’ “SWAT” and “NCIS,” and NBC’s “Perfect Harmony” were all set to film in locations near the fire, but all of those shows have now suspended production for the day.
The blaze began Thursday night in Sylmar and jumped across the 210 and 5 freeways overnight as it spread. Fire officials said Friday that at least 25 homes have been damaged. Parts of those freeways remained closed during the Friday morning commute along with portions of the 14, 118 and 405 freeways.
One man in his 50s died of a heart attack amid the wildfire, according to Los Angeles Fire Department chief Ralph Terrazas. A total of 1,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle the Saddleridge Fire.
The fire is one of several blazes in Southern California fueled by strong Santa Ana winds, with gusts around 60 mph. Many parts of the region are under red-flag warnings into Friday afternoon.
The fire’s cause was not immediately known. A number of colleges and other schools have closed Friday including California State University at Northridge.